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How to Interview a System Administrator
Do you know how to interview a system administrator? Do the questions you ask elicit specific, narrowly-focused information, or do they show you both the depth and breadth of a candidate's knowledge of a particular subject or technology? Do you know how to distinguish between a candidate who is just trying to bluff through the interview and one who has some knowledge of the field but hasn't yet become an expert? Are trick questions ever appropriate, and if so, when and why? Some questions shouldn't be asked, and some would even land you in hot water with your company's HR or legal department: do you know what those questions are? Finally, have you figured out how to help a candidate do well in an interview while still getting an objective and fair assessment of their skills?
If you answered "no" or even "I'm not sure" to any of these questions, this course is for you.
This tutorial will focus on techniques for interviewers, but even sysadmins who are just starting out will learn some things to use as an interviewee. Managers of system administrators and junior sysadmins will learn, among other things, how to interview someone who knows more than you do. Junior administrators will also learn how to respond (as an interviewee) when asked a bad question, in particular, how to turn it into a better question.
System administrators of all levels of experience, as well as managers of system administrators.
Increased confidence in your ability to weed out the posers and hire really great sysadmins.
- Purposes of an interview
- To assess the candidate's technical skills
- To get a feel for the candidate's personality and interpersonal skills
- To learn whether a candidate is likely to be a good fit with the company and with the IT group
- To help the candidate figure out whether he wants this job and whether he is likely to do well in the position
- Maybe even to teach the candidate something new about system administration
- Basic questions to bear in mind
- Is the candidate comfortable?
- Does he need a drink or a bathroom break?
- Does she know who you are and what your role in the company is?
- Preparatory questions
- What are you really trying to learn about the candidate's skills, and why?
- What makes a good question good?
- What makes a bad question bad?
- How can you turn bad questions into good ones?
- When is it appropriate to ask a trick question, and why?
- What questions can't or shouldn't you ask?